Do you ever see a dog owner and their dog waking down the street and think to yourself, “the owner looks just like their dog!?” This has happened to me multiple times and for some reason I have thought nothing about it until now. Now obviously we all know that dogs are not created by the owner like babies, so why is this phenomenon something people see so often?
Being able to say that a dog owner looks like their dog is easy, but the hard part is being able to explain why. With much curiosity, I began to do some research. The coincidence of a dog owner looking like their dog obviously has nothing to do with genetics. When further researching, I found that it all has to do with something else and that something else is what Stanley Coren of Psychology Today calls “familiarity.” According to Coren (2013) a lot of the time, people chose certain things because of the familiarity of it. They are able to relate to it, so therefore it is easier to connect and be comfortable with it. This idea is carried over when dog owners are figuring out what dog to buy. Coren also makes a point to say how familiar we are with our own faces. How many times a day do we look in the mirror or look at a picture of ourselves? Being so familiar with our faces often influences what dog we chose. To further enhance his point, Coren conducted a study at the University of British Columbia using 104 female students enrolled. For each woman, Coren would show four different breads: An English Springer Spaniel, a Beagle, a Siberian Husky and a Basenji (Coren 2013). He asked them to rate how much they liked the dogs. Coren then asked the women which were their favorite hair styles when shown pictures. After conducting this experiment, Coren found that women who liked certain hairstyles often liked the same type of dogs. According to Coren, women with long hair covering their ears liked the Springer Spaniel and the Beagle. On the other hand, women with shorter hair who showed their ears preferred dogs like the Siberian Husky and the Basenji. What he had concluded from this experiment was that humans often find comfort and familiarity with dogs who “look” like them. Of course though, there were a number of woman with long hair who preferred short eared dogs and vice versa, but the statistics for familiarity in dogs with similar looks was much greater (Coren 2013).
In a Huffington Post article titled “People Really Do Look Like Their Dogs, And Here’s Why” writer, Dominique Mosbergen talked about a psychologist, Sadahiko Nakajima and his experiment. Nakajima conducted an experiment with dogs and their owners. In a few photos, Mosbergen covered certain facial features in either the dog or the owner. He then asked people to identify the dog owner and dog who resembled each other. The results showed that when the eyes of the dog and dog owner were covered, it made it extremely hard for people to pick a dog and dog owner who had resemblance. From this experiment Nakajima concluded that people find familiarity in the eyes (Mosbergen 2014). I think that it’s really interesting that we are attracted to dogs because of the familiarity in our eyes. It’s funny because my friends and I have discussed before that when we first meet someone, the first thing we notice is their eyes. Eyes are something we tend to connect to and clearly that connection is the same with dogs.
Who would have thought that it all comes down to familiarity when choosing a new four legged friend? Well that’s science for you! We even see this phenomenon in movies, like Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Click HERE to see an entertaining scene where the dogs and dog owners are very similar as they walk down the street. Although it is exaggerated, it definitely brings a comical aspect to the similarities between dogs and their owners.
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